Andy Sousa is a dancer from Cuba. By the age of 5, he knew he had a passion for movement so decided to pursue ballet. With all its vintage charm and exciting cultural pluralisms, the Caribbean island, however, still favours a type of hegemonic masculinity that indulges in machismo behaviours. Although he had the encouragement of his father, Sousa’s adolescence was scarred by peers and relations who attempted to undermine his heterosexuality and masculinity through bullying and tyranny.
“As a storyteller, I’m drawn to exploring and confronting stereotypes and celebrating the resilience of those like Andy who have learned to live authentically and find freedom in their own skin,” says director Gillian Zinser of Sousa, who also founded Bad Boy Ballet, an online initiative that raises awareness of and provides a community for male ballet dancers. “I hope Andy’s voice might inspire an audience to not only expand our understanding and ideas around gender, but to pursue our true voices amidst the noise of societal pressures, archaic definitions, and false leadership.”
Undeterred by the bullying he received during his adolescence, Sousa joined the Cuban National Ballet Company at the age of 15. He now lives and works in Florida in pursuit of opportunity and emotional freedom. His tale, however, is not just one that is unique to men growing up in Cuba, but widespread across the world.